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Eric Schmidt: Today's Most Interesting Engineering Problems Are Around Sharing

Google (s GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt sat for a Q&A at the company’s Atmosphere event yesterday pitching its Apps platform to the enterprise. A couple of his remarks stuck with me today and I wanted to share them as well as a video of the session that Google has now made available to the public.

Schmidt made two specific comments about resource allocation, saying that the hardest and most pressing engineering issues facing Google today are around sharing and mobile. He was talking to the enterprise execs present but his statements were so absolute I think it’s fair to apply them more broadly.

“Companies are about sharing,” Schmidt said. “One of the new things in the last five years about the web is that it enables sharing-sensitive apps.” He continued:

I think of calendars as incredibly boring, but I’m wrong, calendars are incredibly interesting because they’re incredibly shared. So from a computer science perspective, all of a sudden we have our top engineers who want to build calendars. I’m going, what’s wrong with you guys? But in fact it’s a very interesting example. Spreadsheets are similar, the most interesting spreadsheets are highly, highly interlinked, something I didn’t know, and was not possible with the previous technology — Microsoft (s MSFT) technology made it very difficult because they were not built in that model.

Schmidt also recommended to the executives present that: “You should always put your best team on your mobile app that enables your service. The answer should always be mobile first.”

As the mobile Internet becomes central for both consumer and corporate users, the core product questions are interoperability, security and safety, Schmidt said. “What’s important is to get the mobile experience right, because mobility will ultimately be the way you provision most of your services,” he added, saying that Google considers phones, tablets and netbooks mobile experiences.

Lastly, to make good mobile, web and diskless computer (aka Chrome OS) apps, Schmidt had a platform recommendation as well: “From our perspective the single most important development has been the arrival of the HTML 5 standard.”

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The App Developer’s Guide to Choosing a Mobile Platform

11 Responses to “Eric Schmidt: Today's Most Interesting Engineering Problems Are Around Sharing”

  1. I tend to agree that Eric’s statement is to be interpreted in a limited context. Google will have several of their best and brightest working in the infrastructure parts. Of course sharing is a huge requirement of the “infrastructure” they manage, but not all.

  2. Bruce McL

    Sharing contacts with Google Apps is very difficult. Even putting contacts in alphabetical order by last name is difficult. No wonder Schmidt mentioned calendars and spreadsheets instead of contacts.

  3. @ragazzo Apple don’t want the openness of HTML 5? Where did you get that from? How does Chrome render webpages?… Webkit. What did Apple name as the platform for iPhone development right from the beginning (before the App store)?… The web, html5, css etc. Open standards. What are Apple now championing as the alternative to Flash? Right.

  4. Most people’s work day revolves around finishing tasks. When a computer can assemble an interactively-guided research paper for me, write a first draft of a proposal, close a sale, or manage my kitchen, then we’ll be getting somewhere.

  5. monopolies

    google is calling itself open but monopolistic. atleast microsoft acknowledges that it is closed. google is open only to show that they are good. Everyone wants money, thats the ultimate motive. apple is following html5 because both apple and google are writing it .. to me so called “open” is fake, since these are the companies who “own it” and control it.. though obviously they ask for comments as per w3c protocols.

  6. Ragazzo

    I think Google has been pushing this for awhile. Full integration of everything.
    It seems that slowly but surely the public has begun to accept this “sharing” mentality when it comes to online. In the past privacy reigned supreme but now people sharing information willingly. Look at your Facebooks, LinkedIns, Twitters etc etc. All ways to let others (strangers even) see what you are like in your personal and professional life.

    The HTML 5 comment is obvious. Google has been a champion for the standard the entire time. It’s the other guys (Apple) that didn’t want the openness of HTML 5 and only recently had a great marketing spin to make it seem like they have always supported it…even though they still don’t in many ways.